When I set out to do research for my book Off the (Beaten) Subway Track in the summer of 2007, I called the City Island Historical Society to find out what their hours were. "Oh, we just had a fire that destroyed the front of our building," the woman on the phone told me. "I don't know when we'll be open again."
I was disappointed. City Island - a tiny patch of marinas, housing, and sea food restaurants in the Bronx - is exactly the type of place I wanted in the book. If the museum was not open, though, I didn't think I would have enough to say. I had to leave it out.
Then last year, I was looking at patterns of foreclosure in New York City. I noticed a few bungalows on City Island were for sale for under $60,000. "We should get a summer home in the Bronx," I joked to Husband. He's became obsessed with the idea. (He relishes telling people that he has a summer home in the Bronx.) Somehow, though, we never made it up there last summer.
Today we took advantage of today's fine weather and long weekend to motor up to City Island. (It is also possible to get there by taking the 6 train to Pelham Bay Station and transferring to the Bx 29, which I recommend as it avoids the evilness known as the Cross Bronx Expressway, which is notable for destroying the south Bronx and have four of the ten worst bottlenecks in the nation.) The City Island Historical Society and Nautical Museum is open again. We enjoyed looking at all the marine equipment, old photographs, and historic furniture and bric-a-brac from the area. I learned that people born on City Island are called clam diggers, and that people who move there are referred to as mussel suckers. I love it.
Afterward, we ate at the Lobster Box (very tasty lobster roll sandwich, if I do say so myself and I do), and then walked the entire island. It was charming and weird. We went to a junk store that sold the junkiest junk I've ever seen. We passed a tattoo parlor. We poked in a Jersey Shore Boardwalk type place that had kiddie rides, video games, and picnic tables at which to eat overpriced friend seafood. We joked about the BBQs we will host in the backyard of our summer home in the Bronx.
I doubt we'd ever buy a second house on City Island, but it was a lot of fun to explore the idea. Dreaming and day trips to explore new areas are important.